Thursday, 25 October 2012

Plagiarism vs fanfic



I write a lot and I get very little time to read fanfiction these days. I keep up with my favourite writers and stories that aren't finished yet, but I just don’t have time to read everything. I have some great fans and readers who let me know when they hit a fic that sounds very like one of mine.

In all honesty, there is not a lot I can do about it, but I do appreciate them notifying me and keeping watch on my behalf. I have heard of fanfic being copied word for word; even the summary and posted under another name on another site. That is clearly plagiarism and a campaign from the original writer’s supporters got that one removed. But in a fanfic world where only the real author holds the rights, none of us have much defense.

It would be true irony for me to get upset about it, so I don’t. But if I don’t respond, then people assume that I don’t know about it and they keep messaging me, to tell me about it.

I'm not well today and maybe I handled something badly, but I am not sure what else I could have done. I heard from a few sources about a fic that was very similar to one of mine. So, I read it.

Clearly some people must have spoken to the writer as well. If you are accused of copying someone’s work, it’s probably a bad idea to put up a message telling people to shove it up their ass. She did say that she had ‘hardly read my story’. I'm not sure what that means. In any case, I replied to her message. Maybe I should have done so privately? But she had posted a public comment and that effectively called me out. She also mentioned me by name.

I was polite. Maybe too polite? She said she didn't know how it was like my work, so I listed it for her. Lol. That might have been a touch provocative, but a few of the items were very specific and quite rare. To see them all in one story did sound familiar. At least I avoided all discussions about asses and shoving.

And then I said that it was now a different story. I suggested that it was more like a fanfic and I clearly have no issues with fanfic. 

I encouraged her to finish it and I made it very clear that I wasn't upset about it. I reminded her that she had fans who supported her and who wanted to read the end of her story. I assumed that if she got any further comments from people saying it was like my story, that she could just point at my response and say, ‘MTR isn't worried about it’. And that would be the end of that.

What I didn't expect was a rampage.

She didn't respond to me. She deleted the story. She deleted all her stories. And then she deleted her account on that site. Then she went to another site where I am not a member and (I hear) raged about me, the people who told me about her fic, the organisers of the site etc. Picture me confused as Buffy would say.

I am not sure what I could have done differently. Maybe if I was completely well I would have handled it differently? I don’t know. I suspect probably not.

I am very sad about the whole thing.

Sad that people who told me about it have been trashed, sad that the writer had such a knee jerk reaction, sad that her readers have been punished for all this and sad that the site and probably me, might be painted as the bad guys in this by the writer. As I said, I am not sure what else I could have done. I could have ignored it, I suppose, but why should I have to?

In fanfic we pay lip service; it’s all we pay. Sometimes I have got an idea from someone’s story and I will say that in mine and provide a link to their story. We say this really belongs to X and I am just borrowing it. So if you want to write an alternate universe or ending for one of my fanfic stories, go right ahead, but it would be polite to say it was mine and whoever really owns it, of course.

Maybe I shouldn't even be posting this, but … yeah… sad.